Coastal Companions


Learn about the wildlife that shares this remarkable ecosystem with whales



We are so fortunate to share our home and research station here with in the Great Bear Rainforest. Even though our objective is the study of whales we realize that every living creature with in this magical ecosystem is connected. So, when we protect whales what we really need to accomplish is the protection this entire system. There are few places left on this planet where you may walk a creek spawning with salmon, watch as a black bear carries this salmon to the forest, leaving the remains to feed the trees, above an eagle soars, a raven calls, wolves howl, sea lions grunt, a pod of orcas pass by and then the blow of a humpback leaves you in silent awe that a place can be so alive.


On this page we will share with you our interactions and stories from others that remind us of how blessed we are to share this planet with such diverse wonders of nature.


Our first story took place just weeks ago right in Taylor Bight as 2 young wolves explored the strength of their own will to win.

Wolves and a Bone

We were just getting ready for dinner when we heard a sound like no other; something was in trouble or in the process of becoming prey, or so we thought. We all ran to the point, binoculars in hand. Across the bay we could see 3 wolves but still unsure what was happening to cause such a cry. With the distance between us we realized we may never know so I made a quick decision, jumped into the canoe, camera in my lap and began to paddle towards them. As I approached one wolf departed into the trees. I held off as not wanting to have an impact. The other 2 were oblivious to my presence and I soon realized what all the commotion was about. One wolf was quite skinny, perhaps 3 years old, the other an older juvenile. Between them, locked in both jaws was an object, obviously food, looked like a large hip or shoulder bone. Whatever it was it was solid as they were both struggling with all their strength to tear it from the others grip. This tug of war went on for over an hour. Eventually the younger wolf lost to the older and stronger, but what an effort for such a small wolf! I paddled home, in awe and appreciation that they would allow me to be present and witness the intimacy of their daily lives.


Next Entry Wriiten By Meeghan

There was an extraordinary sight today – one that I actually saw once before on Gil Island, so maybe it’s not intrinsically extra-ordinary-but actually quite ordinary and just new to me.

This is one of the great privileges of living here.  Every day, every hour, I am surrounded by beauty and wilderness.  All I have to do is take minute to look -- and there it is.  And, when I take more than a minute there are creatures all around me traveling, resting, socializing, calling, feeding, playing. . . living their lives.  Sometimes we joke that the only gossip we get with so few people on the island is news about what the sea lions or whales are up to. (When someone’s hot water bottle is something everyone mentions, it clear there is not much news.)

But, truly, I feel like I’m witnessing the stories of so many creatures lives all of the time.  Sometimes it is the story of Dave, the humpback, getting “checked out” by a pod of transient (read:  mammal-eating) orcas.  Sometimes it is the story of what sea ochres (a kind of star fish) do when we drop a pen from the lab.) Plus, I just love learning all about the life around me.  It is fascinating and every new piece of information makes them that much more delightful to witness.

So, what was the extraordinary sight?!

During one of my early shifts at the lab I saw something flapping about in the water.  I just could not figure out what it was; my brain just couldn’t make sense of it. Fish? Porpoise? Sea lion? Seal? Sea weed? (It tricks you sometimes.) Sea bird?

I finally settled on bird. It is some large bird.  It looked like a bald eagle, but that couldn’t be.  I’ve seen a lot of bald eagles here; there is a gorgeous nest-mansion near the lab.  Bald eagles swoop and glide; they gracefully, effortlessly pluck fish from the sea or away from the less conscientious sea lions. This eagle was splashing, flopping, making a huge ruckus without the least bit of elegance.

Herman finally interpreted the scene for me.  “Sometimes eagles catch a fish too large to fly away with and they have to swim to shore.”

Wow! Swimming eagles.  Who knew?

So today I had the chance to see the same thing, just more clearly.

A bald eagle is swimming across East Taylor Bight – or perhaps paddling would be a better description.  He looks like he is doing the butter fly stroke.  Big black wings flop heavily up and forward and pull back through the water.  Up and forward – stroke.  The right wing is clearly having an easier time of it, pulling powerfully through the small wavelets.  The left wing flops awkwardly.  He labors, slowly – stroooke – through the ripples and currents.

Janie mentions that sometimes eagles don’t make it; she has found them drowned.

Flap – up – stroke.

Flap – up – stroke.

Flop, Flap—up –stroke.

A glint of silvery fish.

Finally, he makes it to the rocky shore.  We see him throw himself out of the water with the giant meal he has been hauling.  His left wing looks just fine.  He hops up the shore with his bounty.

Once he is back on land he shakes his head and his true grace is once again returns.